You don’t have to be an environmentalist to know the effect that different plastics can have on our wallets, bodies and the environment. Recently, the problem has only become worse and plastics have found their way into many parts of our natural landscapes. Here are some things to consider before you grab your next bottle of water.
Buying anything made from plastic begs the questions of whether it’s sustainable or not. So, let’s take a look at plastics.
Unfortunately, most plastic water bottles are actually thrown away, a decade ago that number reaching over 75 percent of them. They can only be recycled a limited number of times unless they are downcycled into other products, which is a small consolation. They also take thousands of years to truly decompose in nature, they simply break down into smaller, microscopic pieces. Bottle caps tend to be an issue as well, as most become separated from the bottle and end up in landfills, or worse, the ocean.
Water bottles are also expensive, and you’re typically not getting the quality of water promised on the label’s description and graphics of pristine, unadulterated mountain streams. It also means that cities are less likely to focus on providing clean water locally. If everyone is consistently buying water from the store, the necessity for more innovative and sustainable ways to create clean water diminishes.
If you haven’t heard, plastics are pervasive in the open oceans. So much so, that the Pacific has its own, “garbage patch.” It is a gyre of plastic debris, roughly the size of Texas which endangers and eventually kills sea life as they ingest its particles. The Pacific isn’t alone though, most major bodies of water contain some assortment of plastic materials. Even the Arctic was unable to avoid the plastic pollution when scientists discovered a patch there last month. Wildlife often confuses the plastics for food sources and eat them by mistake.
Concerns For Humans
In 2010, the FDA decided that the chemical BPA – found in various products including water bottles and food cans – was unsafe and exposure should be limited. Plastics also affect food sources, especially those that rely on the ocean for fish and seafood. If many of those products made their way into the oceans, what does that then mean for them? Plastics and Styrofoam enter the food chain and are then ingested by people, exposing them to an array of toxic chemicals absorbed by the animal.
What You Can Do
Luckily, there are ways you can help make a difference when it comes to plastics.
– Invest in reusable water bottles. There are so many options out there, and they will tell you on the label if they are BPA free or not.
– Consider replacing bottle caps with different materials such as natural cork stoppers, which reduce the number of plastic bottle caps in trash cans and eventually, in the oceans.
– Use your own reusable grocery bags when going to the store. You can even find some made from recycled materials! Buy bulk items such as nuts, grains, oats, and rice that you can store in mason jars or other reusable containers
– Get thrifty and visit local consignment shops to find some new duds and great steals. You can find some really nice things, especially at boutique style consignment shops, without putting more money into the production of products.
Plastics are a big challenge facing us today so do your research. Explore creative ways to minimize environmental impacts and choose alternatives to plastic. The earth and future generations will thank you!